Dozens of volunteers spent Friday placing American flags at local cemeteries to honor veterans for the Memorial Day weekend.
A ceremony will be held at 6 a.m. Monday at the entrance of the Cortez Cemetery. The event features an honor guard and color guard, a rifle salute, and a performance of taps. The significance of Memorial Day will be explained, and there will be a prayer.
The Montezuma County Veterans of Foreign Wars places flags at veterans’ graves, with support from the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Daughters of the Revolution, and Civil Air Patrol.
“We invite everyone to get up early and come out to honor our veterans,” said Scott Magness, commander of VFW Post 5231.
People are asked to practice social distancing, and masks are optional. American flags will line the streets in Mancos, Dolores and Cortez.
Many of the traditional local Memorial Day events were canceled because of coronavirus restrictions. The veteran breakfast at the American Legion in Cortez, along with the placing of the wreath in the Dolores River in Dolores have both been canceled.
At the Cortez Cemetery Friday, more than 20 volunteers placed more 400 flags on veteran gravesites. The same happened at cemeteries in Mancos, Dolores and throughout the county. On Memorial Day, volunteers are needed at 4 p.m. to collect the flags at the Cortez Cemetery.
At the Cedar Grove cemetery in Mancos, majestic casket flags on tall poles will greet visitors for Memorial Day.
The Daughters of the American Revolution has been documenting veterans gravesites in the county, and the Montezuma County VFW recently joined the effort. They research records from Veterans Affairs and seek information from residents.
“We are working together to continually update the list,” said Mike Brunk, an Air Force veteran, VFW member and volunteer driver for the Disabled American Veterans. “Recognizing our veterans who have come and gone is what we stand for.”
Memorial Day is a reminder for the public of the sacrifices paid by veterans in defense of American values, said David Johnson, VFW commander.
“Generations have fought for our country and our liberty. That freedom was fought and paid for, but as Ben Franklin said, it must be held on to by the people,” he said.
At the Cortez Cemetery Friday afternoon, Corena Hampton and Crystal Oveson, of the VFW Auxiliary, placed American flags on veteran gravesites.
“Honoring our veterans and patriotism is a long tradition in this area,” Hampton said.
She wore a RED Friday veteran’s T-shirt. RED stands for Remember Everyone Deployed. They are available for $15 by calling 970-570-5755. Proceeds pay for care packages sent off to locals serving in the military.
Wreaths can be purchased for a veteran to be honored during the Wreaths Across America event on Dec. 19 at the Cortez Cemetery veterans memorial.